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Master list released: what is next for wheat classification?

The Wheat Quality Australia variety master list for 2020 has been released.
Photo: Nicole Baxter

Nine newly classified wheat varieties – four feed and five milling varieties – have been announced in the 2020 Wheat Quality Australia (WQA) Wheat Variety Master List, at the same time as several old varieties were removed.

The varieties removed from the list – first flagged for removal in 2018, and delivered in their existing class up until 2019 – were:

  • Blade
  • Clearfield JNZ
  • Clearfield STL
  • Pugsley
  • Tammarin Rock
  • Binnu
  • LRPB Bullet
  • Yandanooka
  • Zulu
  • Zebu
  • Frelon
  • Zippy
  • Bumper
  • Endure.

Varieties planned for removal in 2022 are:

  • Batavia
  • Calingiri
  • Anlace
  • Marombi
  • Barham
  • LRPB Hornet
  • Sunvex
  • Waagan
  • Fang.

Calingiri goes

Calingiri’s removal will create interest in Western Australia’s grainbelt, where it was once popular.

WQA chair Dr Don Plowman says Calingiri was classified in 1997 as an Australian noodle wheat variety in the western zone.

“At the time, it was the only agronomically competitive variety that could be used to develop the Japanese noodle market. The variety was reviewed in 2017 and, while having competitive agronomic characteristics, there was persistent concern being expressed by Japanese manufacturers around the quality of Calingiri. In fact, it was never preferred by Japanese customers as the colour was too pale,” Dr Plowman says.

“A commitment was made to WA growers that Calingiri would not be removed until we were completely sure that there was an appropriate replacement that ticked the two most important boxes – an improvement from a quality point of view and that it also met grower needs – to ensure a good supply.

“At the request of the Grain Industry Association of WA in 2018, and on behalf of all sectors of the wheat industry in WA, WQA was asked to delay the removal of Calingiri, for three years, until recently commercialised varieties with superior quality attributes were proven agronomically.

“Since then, a number of varieties have been released and are now widely grown including Supreme, Zen, Ninja and Kinsei to meet this specialty market. The area planted to Calingiri has also declined significantly.

“There has been a clear response from grains industry sectors in WA that, as Calingiri is no longer the only agronomically competitive variety, it should now be removed from the master list.

“WQA has accepted the advice and agreed to the removal of Calingiri, after two more harvests, from the September 2022 master list. If it is delivered to a grain receival point after this date, it will only be received as feed.”

New varieties

New varieties on the 2020 master list are:

  • LRPB Stealth
  • RockStar
  • BASF Ascot
  • Bitalli
  • Westcourt
  • HAW1
  • HAW2
  • HAW3
  • RGT Ivory.

These new releases contain varieties classified in the hard classes Australian Prime Hard (APH), Australian Hard (AH) and Australian Premium White (APW), Noodle AH(N), Australian Premium Durum (APDR) and Feed.

In the western zone, there are a number of upgrades this year, including Catapult and LRPB Kittyhawk to AH. With the decision to segregate APW(N), a number of varieties have been upgraded to have the noodle classification added to their existing hard class , including Sheriff CL Plus to APW(N) and Vixen to AH(N). LRPB Nighthawk has also been upgraded to APW in the western zone.

Upgrades in other zones include Vixen to AH in the northern zone; and Devil to AH and LRPB Nighthawk to APW in the southern zone.

WQA executive officer Hugh Robertson says the range of classes released across all four zones shows the breadth of new varieties being classified and upgraded to meet a range of market needs.

“The listing of HAW1, HAW2 and HAW3 is of particular interest and shows how Australian cereal breeding technology is leading the world in response to consumer trends in food markets – in this case, health,” Mr Robertson says.

“The CSIRO developed this technology of high-amylose wheats to respond to the global demand for foods with dietary fibre that contributes to a healthier gut biome, which has been shown to have a positive impact on chronic disease reduction and mental health.

“These varieties have a Feed classification, but they are not in fact intended as Feed but have a much-higher-value application. Even though these high-value varieties will initially be produced in small quantities, it points to a need for a classification system that must become more agile in the future.”

What’s next?

As Australia’s wheat classification system is set to become part of the remit of the new industry good company Grains Australia, growers are being reminded not to lose sight of the importance of selecting and sowing wheat varieties based on market demand.

Commenting on the release of the 2020 Wheat Variety Master List, Mr Robertson says growers should “plant with a purpose” as export and domestic market demands become more diverse and complex. “Many growers currently choose a wheat because it grows well and is easy to market,” he says.

“The vast majority of Australian wheat planted is either AH (South Australia, Victoria and WA) or APH (New South Wales and Queensland), but the two largest classes shipped are APW and Australian Standard Wheat (ASW), mostly to markets where much of the higher quality inherent in AH and APH doesn’t generate full value. Furthermore, the diminished yield associated with a higher quality is another lost opportunity.

“WQA has been a good steward of the classification system and has made a major contribution to the maintenance of our reputation for quality. In the future it is critical that the classification system facilitates efficient access to the highest-value markets that growers are equipped to access in order to maximise value creation for producers and the whole chain.

“Remaining focused on the needs of the market – current and forecast – while acknowledging Australia’s natural constraints and core advantages, will help to ensure we deliver classification and a wheat crop that remains fit for purpose.

“The Australian wheat industry will need to respond quickly to market signals from both the export and domestic markets. All sectors of industry, from the marketers, accumulators, growers and breeders, will need to collaborate and share the risk in market development and, in doing so, maximise value creation. The wheat classification will need to be more agile and flexible to enable responses to these market requirements.”

The WQA 2020 Wheat Variety Master List is available from the Wheat Quality Australia website and the Grain Trade Australia Wheat Standards. For further information on the management of old varieties on the master list, please contact Grain Producers Australia or WQA.

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